Deal with Sahara for developing satellite cities
REHAB, BLDA demand land, matching facilities from govtStaff Correspondent
Bangladeshi real estate companies and land developers said on Saturday they would invest many time more than India’s Sahara Group to develop housing in the country if the government gave them matching facilities.
They said the government should have consulted them before signing a memorandum of understanding with Sahara seeking investment in setting up of satellite cities close to the capital.
The Real Estate and Housing Association of Bangladesh, better known as REHAB and the Bangladesh Land Developers Association told a news conference at a city hotel that it would be wiser for the government to sign the MoU with Bangladeshi companies for setting up the satellite cities.
On May 23, the government signed an MoU with Indian infrastructure development company, Sahara India Pariwar for developing a ‘new city’ on the outskirts of Dhaka having ‘affordable housing for low income group people.’
The deal came as a bolt from the blue for the Bangladeshi companies as they feel that they have to capacity to do it.
After signing the deal, Sahara India Pariwar chairman Subrata Roy Sahara told a news conference that his company would initially invest 120 to 125 million US dollars in Bangladesh’s real estate sector for which he had asked for 100,000 acres of land on the outskirts of Dhaka from the government.
REHAB and BLDA leaders said that they were requesting the government for long to provide them the land to develop satellite cities around the capital.
‘We have been requesting the government to provide land for developing satellite cities around the capital. But the government did not respond to our proposal,’ BLDA president and Bashundhara Group chairman Ahmed Akbar Sobhan told the news conference.
He said that Bangladeshi companies were not being able to handover thousands of apartments to their buyers for lack of gas and electricity for last three years.
Replying to a question, he said, foreign investment in housing could be allowed only after protecting the interests of the vibrant domestic industry.
He said that Bangladeshi companies had the capacity to go for big investments for such projects.
He said foreign real estate companies could be allowed to invest in Chittagong and other cities of the country.
If the government provides to Shara 100,000 acres of land in Dhaka, the obvious question that would arise is why BLDA and REHAB would not get comparable or more land as they could invest many times more than Sahara had offered, he said.
Asked whether foreign investment could create competition, he said, ‘Let the government provide us 200,000 acres of land first, 100,000 acres to each association, to create a level playing field for competition.’
‘We would be able invest many times more than what India’s Sahara has offered to invest in the sector given the matching facilities,’ he said.
REHAB president Nasrul Hamid Bipu, a ruling party lawmaker, in a written statement, said that the government should have consulted them before allowing a foreign company set satellite cities close to Dhaka.
He asked the government to sign MoUs with REHAB and BLDA like the MoU it had signed with Sahara for developing satellite cities.
Bipu called for protesting the interests of the domestic industries first.
When his attention was drawn to newspaper reports that Sahara Pariwar was facing charges of tax evasion in an Indian court, Bipu said the government must look into the reputation of foreign companies before allowing them to invest in Bangladesh.
Former REHAB president Tanveerul Haque Probal, REHAB joint secretary Jamshed Hassan and REHAB executive committee member Arshi Haider were present at the news conference.
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